The truth behind hormonal contraceptives

Why should we compromise ourselves and our bodies because society tells us to?

Molly Taylor
13th December 2021
Image from Unsplash @rhsupplies

(For the purposes of this article, when I refer to women, I mean anyone with a uterus)

How many of you were whacked on the pill at the age of 14 to combat acne or heavy periods? So often women have been put on hormonal birth control to curb problems, but are hit with a whole wave of different issues as a consequence. Since the invention of the birth control pill in 1960 by Frank Colton, women all over the world have been given the freedom to choose if and when they have children. Liberating, right? You would think so, but increasing numbers of women have begun to realise just how limited our options are.

So often women have been put on hormonal birth control to curb problems, but are hit with a whole wave of different issues as a consequence.

In the UK, there are 15 types of contraception available, most of which are hormonal-based. Although non-hormonal forms such as condoms are widely available, many women want a more secure method of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Why is it, then, that the only alternatives include a bath-towel-sized sheet of paper in their packets, with a list of all the potential side effects? Some of my favourites from the pill include:

The Contraceptive Pill
Image from Unsplash @rhsupplies
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding and bleeding between periods
  • Mood changes 
  • Nausea, headaches and dizziness
  • Blood clots 
  • Weight gain and bloating
  • Decreased libido
  • Acne
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Vision problems
  • Depression

Lovely.

And of course, these are just a few examples. After being around for over 60 years, you’d think a better option would be available by now. And this isn’t just the case with the pill; we’ve all heard the horror stories from our friends who got the IUD fitted, and were stuck with immense stomach cramps and a period that lasted 2 months. Not to mention the pain of getting the IUD inserted and taken out by a grumpy doctor who just wants their lunch break, while you're sat like a lemon on the examination table with your hoo-ha out.

IUD contraceptive
Image from Unsplash @rhsupplies

Of course, these are just some accounts, and many people get along very well with hormonal forms of birth control. For some women, it’s easy, and creates the freedom to have sex without worrying about pregnancy. I don’t want to do these women a disservice by recounting solely the negatives, as hormonal birth control can make some people’s periods lighter or non-existent, clear up acne, reduce cramps, and lessen the symptoms of endometriosis, to name a few. But for the rest of us, why should we settle for something that just isn’t good enough?

I have multiple friends who also have worries about coming off the pill, due to the side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated. Withdrawal symptoms include heavier periods, PMS, weight changes, and increased hair growth. 

Women are deemed ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’ by society for not being on the pill, despite unwanted pregnancies being a two-way street.

So, why not try another option? Fancy getting a device that looks like a tiny pogo stick shoved in your uterus? Or perhaps you like the thought of having your arm cut open and a little stick called Nexplanon (which sounds like a chemical weapon) sewn in for the next three years? Oh, wait, I’ve got it, you want to have an injection every 8-13 weeks that steadily releases the progestogen into your bloodstream, causing headaches, mood swings and breast tenderness?

Nexplanon implant.
Image from Unsplash @rhsupplies

Not to mention the social stigma around sexually active women (who sleep with men) that aren’t on the pill or use hormonal contraceptives. They’re deemed ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’ by society for not being careful enough, despite unwanted pregnancies being a two-way street. (And why is it always our mothers that shame us for this?).

I genuinely believe that the reason a better option hasn’t been invented yet is because pregnancy is a women's issue. If men had uteruses and were able to get pregnant, I guarantee a better option would have been invented decades ago. And of course, abortions would be legal everywhere, but that’s another issue entirely. 

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